Landowners’ tree planting dismissed as ‘cynical’

Replacement trees planted at Cumberland Avenue in Helensburgh last weekend have been labelled ‘a half-hearted attempt at compliance’ by campaigners.

Landowners Margery Osborne and Thomas Paterson had previously ignored a tree replacement notice served by Argyll and Bute Council.

The Helensburgh Community Woodlands Group (HCWG) called on the council to take legal action to force the trees to be planted, and the issue is due to be discussed in private by councillors on Wednesday.

A statement issued by the group acknowledges the trees have been planted but says  ‘stringent specifications set by the council to ensure the long-term survival of the trees’ have been ignored.

If any of the trees fail, the council has no powers to require their replacement, unlike on new housing developments where trees which fail within their first five years must be replanted as a condition of planning permission.

David Adams, HCWG convenor, said: “HCWG hopes that the council will not be taken in by this cynical and half-hearted attempt to comply with the official tree replacement notice.

“The committee must insist that the detailed horticultural specifications it previously set to ensure the long-term survival of these trees are fully complied with.”

The specific conditions of the tree replacement notice include the following:

  •  To purchase and plant trees that are well surrounded within a ‘root ball’ or container of compost, rather than bare root stock, which the landowners have actually planted at Cumberland Avenue
  • To create a one metre circle of prepared ground for each newly planted tree, free from grass, weeds and debris, and from which subsoil and stones have been removed.
  •  The Tree Replacement Notice also required Mrs Osborne and Mr Paterson to “arrange a visit to a nursery or nurseries with an officer of Argyll and Bute Council to agree those trees that are to be selected and reserved.”

Mr Adams said it appeared that the council had been given no such opportunity to check the quality of the trees before they were planted, and very few of the trees planted this weekend are in the particular locations specified.

The council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee is due to discuss the landowners’ actions in private this Wednesday (December 18).